January 2018 Newsletter: WE GOT THE POWER!
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January Bus Haiku by PPT member Dean Mougianis. We’d love to feature your transit haikus, too! Just email us at laura@
Transit Equity Day: Monday, Feb 5– PPT, the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85 and the Sierra Club our publishing a Post Gazette Joint Op-Ed celebrating Transit Equity Day on Rosa Parks’ birthday. Join the Facebook page to follow the happenings from around the country!
BRT Campaign Planning Meeting: Tuesday February 13, 6:00- 7:30 pm at Carnegie Library of Braddock (419 Library St, Braddock, PA 15104).
PPT Monthly Membership Meeting: Wednesday February 14, 6:00 pm social hour, 7:00 -8:30 pm meeting at 1 Smithfield Stdowntown. We will be asking for nominations to the PPT Coordinating Committee at this meeting.
Don’t Criminalize Transit Riders campaign planning meeting TBD.
(Please let us know if you need a ride to attend our events)
“Who’s BRT? It’s Not for Me!”
Photo description: Ralph Williams holding a poster of a bus rider family that will have a harder time accessing groceries. Crowd holding BRT signs behind him. Photo credit Al Hart.
What an amazing month. PPT and Just Harvest have partnered in calling on the Port Authority board to not implement the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) at the expense of our 61 A, B, and C bus riders. Last Friday, more than 60 riders and bus drivers came out to rally and pack the Port Authority boardroom, sharing powerful testimony about how their communities would be harmed if the 61 A, B, and C service frequency was cut by 45% as proposed, or if they were required to transfer in Oakland to travel downtown. We submitted more than 300 rider postcards telling their stories of needing the bus, and we’re still collecting dozens more.
Thank you to all the folks that joined us to call for equity with the BRT, and for your work collecting postcards and rallying and testifying. We are not going to give up this fight!
How you can plug in: We are continuing to distribute and collect 61 bus rider postcards, get organizations and municipalities to sign onto our BRT letter, and we are beginning the process of scheduling meetings with regional elected officials to talk to them about the harm of the bus cuts with the BRT. If you would like to help collect postcards, get organizational sign-ons, or join us for meeting with elected officials, let us know!
We are also holding our 2nd Mon Valley BRT planning meeting on Tuesday, Feb 13th, from 6:00-7:30 pm at Braddock Carnegie Library, to discuss possible next steps for this campaign. Please join us!
“Port Authority: Build Ridership, not Walls!”
Photo description: Bus riders holding birds that read “Transportation not deportation”, “not one more”, “black lives matter” and “disability rights are human rights.” Photo credit Crystal Jennings.
Our Don’t Criminalize Transit Riders coalition delegated County Executive Rich Fitzgerald on Thursday, January 18th, to call on him to take a public position opposing fare enforcement policing on public transit. Nearly 30 riders went to his office at the County Courthouse; we were met by six police officers, and were refused an opportunity to speak to him. A full year has passed since this policy of policing and criminal charges for fare evasion was passed. We demand that he listen to his constituents, and call for civil fare enforcement agents and civil consequences at Port Authority!
Later that afternoon, members of Casa San Jose, the Alliance for Police Accountability, the Thomas Merton Center and PPT showed up for a big rally at the Gateway Center T Station, where we demanded that Port Authority Build Ridership, Not Barriersto life! There was a wall of $300 fines, and beautiful birds with messages like “Transportation not Deportation”, and May Day Marching Band played rousing music to celebrate the tearing down of the wall.
We got amazing press in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as well as WTAE news, with new CEO Katherine Kelleman responding, “On a day when a coalition of groups will hold a pair of rallies against armed enforcement of fare payment on Port Authority vehicles, the new head of the transit agency said reviewing that proposed policy is her top priority.”
When we fight, we win! We’ll be planning next steps in the coming weeks around this issue, so stay tuned in for updates on the campaign.
Robot Cars in our Neighborhoods
PPT has been concerned about the push for autonomous vehicle technology in the region, and the implications for transit equity, professional driving jobs, and the environment. We have been following the “Mon-Oakland Mobility Plan” with Four Mile Run/Hazelwood with some skepticism, and encourage you to turn out to the meetings and submit your feedback here. The proposal has been for an autonomous vehicle shuttle to drive through a trail in Schenley Park to connect Oakland with the Run and Hazelwood Green (formerly Almano) In particular, we are saying:
1. We want an honest conversation about the need that the City is trying to address (namely, the future Hazelwood Green site connection to Oakland universities, not an existing problem with residents in the Run or Hazelwood not accessing Oakland quickly enough)
2. The Port Authority should assess the problem and consider the options for the Port Authority providing bus service once the need exists (up until now, PAAC has not been an active partner or stakeholder in the planning)
3. Residents have been clear that they do not want the autonomous vehicle pilot to be tied to the stormwater mitigation work through Schenley Park
4. This route should be public, unionized, accessible and tied to our existing transit network.
MLK Jr Day and PPT
Photo description: PPT board member Lisa Gonzalez reading to five school children about Rosa Parks. Photo credit Crystal Jennings
Thank you to Lisa Gonzalez, Toni Haraldsen and Crystal Jennings for making our MLK Jr tabling session at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater such a success! Lots of students joined us to hear the story of Rosa Parks, transit as a civil right struggle, and tell us what their bus means to them!